Men’s basketball frustrated, but still determined

Men’s basketball loses seventh straight.
By Matthew Osterhouse |

Junior guard and captain D.J. Ferguson could not hide his disappointment as he walked out of the locker room following Saturday’s game at Flagler Gym.

The Flagler College men’s basketball team lost its seventh-straight game against the University of North Carolina Pembroke Braves, a Peach Belt Conference battle they desperately needed for their fading playoff hopes.

“We’ve got to stay positive, and got to find a win somehow,” said fellow junior captain John Pietkiewicz. “Everybody is real down right now, really upset. But we can’t point fingers and get upset with each other, we just got to find a way to stay positive and figure out a way to get a win.”

Both teams played tough defense in the opening 10 minutes, and neither team was able to establish an offensive rhythm.

However, as halftime approached, Pietkiewicz hit two three-pointers in a 10-0 run for Flagler. The Saints briefly had a nine-point lead, but UNC Pembroke fought back, cutting the lead to 34-32 by the half.

UNC Pembroke opened the second half with a lot of energy, pushing the ball more frequently and driving to the basket consistently.

Flagler tried to compensate by falling into an occasional zone and using a half court trap, but they could not slow down the Brave’s scoring. Chris Hargrove had 20 points for UNC Pembroke, and the Braves shot a staggering 61.8% from the floor in the second half.

Flagler head coach Bo Clark implemented a new offensive plan for the UNC Pembroke game in an attempt to open up space for the guards. Cody Shuffler, a freshman forward with three-point range, played primarily at center to give the Saints a legitimate scoring threat at every position.

“We were scoring fine; we just couldn’t get some stops. The offense worked like it we planned on it working,” Ferguson said.

The Saints were able to come back.

With about 10 minutes left, Eddie Fowler threw down a huge dunk for the Saints, and Ferguson followed with a layup. The 53-52 lead for UNC Pembroke was the last time the game was close.

The Braves pulled away again.

A key three-pointer by Hargrove comfortably separated UNC Pembroke from Flagler and, as the Saints increasingly pressured and trapped, the Braves picked apart the Saint’s defense.

Flagler could not fight back and eventually lost 92-83.

Assistant coach Grant Leonard reiterated his captain’s desire for a positive outlook.

“We just got to stay positive, and realize it’s our first time in the [conference] and we’re just getting used to the new opponents,” Leonard said. “We have a lot of good pieces. We just need to keep staying positive and keep getting better.”

Flagler plays USC Aiken on Monday at Flagler Gym in another crucial PBC game. The Saints played USC Aiken on Jan. 10. They took a 10-point lead into halftime, but ended up losing by 10.

“We know we can play with them,” said Ferguson. “So we just got to forget about this, come tomorrow and prepare, and then come out and see what we can do.”

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